Definition of quatrain in US English:



  • A stanza of four lines, especially one having alternate rhymes.

    • ‘Narrative folk ballads of Mexican origin typically have regular metrical features such as rhyming quatrains and use traditional imagery.’
    • ‘The reply and counter-reply must be given in the form of a quatrain with a rhyme scheme of a-b-c-b.’
    • ‘Imagine hearing the lines of the second quatrain as a series of introductions.’
    • ‘Smith's ‘illegitimate’ sonnet consists of three elegiac quatrains and a couplet, thus combining both English elegiac meters.’
    • ‘The play is written in verse which varies between alternately rhyming quatrains and stanzaic form, the effect being lyric rather than dramatic.’
    • ‘To analyze a sonnet into quatrains and tercets is to recognize it as a sonnet, and so to relate it to a conventional lyrical category.’
    • ‘By the time he has finished the first stanza, this is the form he seems to have chosen: a three-stress-per-line stanza of four lines, a quatrain in which the second and fourth lines rhyme.’
    • ‘Valery subtly suggests the progression of evening in the language of the second quatrain's closing lines.’
    • ‘The pantoum is a Malay verse form consisting of an indefinite number of quatrains with the second and fourth lines of each quatrain repeated as the first and third lines of the following one.’
    • ‘The hymn stanza grew out of the ballad stanza: four beats, three beats, four beats, three beats in alternating isochronous lines of varying numbers of syllables locked in a rhyming quatrain.’
    • ‘O'Hara has divided the poem into four unrhymed quatrains, with each of first three consisting of one self-contained sentence.’
    • ‘I curled up with Nash's couplets, quatrains, limericks and occasional jeremiads.’
    • ‘Also of note formally are a few poems with blippy little quatrains of one to two words per line, one of which is the frolicsome ‘Leopard Spirit Society’.’
    • ‘Ballads are most often first-person narratives told in rhyming quatrains of Hiberno-English, and dealing with matters such as love and war.’
    • ‘Presumably to save space, verse is cited in two parallel columns, read across rather than down, with the effect that ‘The Character of a Happy Life’ appears at first glance to be written in obscure couplets rather than limpid quatrains.’
    • ‘The source texts are then reformed into single aphoristic lines, couplets, quatrains, and whole poems.’
    • ‘As well as writing in free verse, his poems are often structured in two or three-line stanzas or quatrains, frequently, although not always, with a rhyme scheme.’
    • ‘Jaques's assertion of the presence of the object world as a link to the past and a means to achieve wholeness in the present is echoed in her conventional poetics, dominated by her preference for rhyming couplets and quatrains.’
    • ‘We hear iambs, trochees, Virgil's hexameters, the Norse alliterative lines, each arranged in their various couplets, quatrains, choric stanzas, gnomic verses, and much more besides.’
    • ‘His earlier work tends to be written in traditional rhymed quatrains but, as he matured, he dropped the rhymes and worked in a freer but still basically alexandrine movement.’


Late 16th century: from French, from quatre ‘four’.